Seven years ago, Bob Swainhart, Vice President Enterprise Solutions Group, Constellation HomeBuilder Systems, had an epiphany — “Now, more than ever, builders should know how their productivity, revenue, and costs are changing in real-time.”
He recognized that to be a successful homebuilder, it was critical to have access to good data and the ability to react quickly to shifts in the economy and market. He also knew that much of the information compiled by companies was outdated and provided insufficient data to make a positive impact.
Fast-forward to 2023 and his message is more important than ever. Construction project management software transformed the home building industry for many top producers. In today’s complex homebuilding environment, the most successful companies know how difficult it is to obtain good quality data but have found ways to access analytics and Big Data through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and Building Information Modeling (BIM) programs.
Many builders struggle to get the insights they need due to the high price of data professionals so they piece together what information they can find and compile Excel spreadsheets, charts and graphs with outdated information. Leading builders know that Excel is not a database and leverage data for timely improvements that any size business can do.
Data Quality is Important
Old methods of data collection only tell a part of the story. By accessing real-time information, companies will benefit from:
- Key decision-making opportunities for executives to redirect resources as needed
- Improved customer trust and loyalty by providing a quality product at the promised price
- More efficient back office
- Better company branding and website presence.
- Transparency for customer/company relations
- Investor trust
How Unified Data Works
- Real-time information—cloud-based analytics work in concert with large, unstructured datasets for current details.
- Interconnectedness—all design elements are completely integrated to the cost estimate so problems can be identified and changes can be made quickly.
- Accessibility—cloud-based storage systems provide construction data to all team members regardless of location.
- Efficiency and Savings—digital tools reduce waste and inefficiencies of time, materials, and resources.
- Project Members Management—the ability to manage all construction partners including architects, engineers, subcontractors, trade contractors, managers, field personnel, and owners.
- Visual Tools—augmented realty (AR) tools are being used to blend digital and 3D components to visualize the products and rectify potential problems.
- Forecast—with a projected 85% growth (or $15.5 trillion) expected by 2030 in the construction services market worldwide, now is the time for builders to implement improved systems and capitalize on the upward revenue trajectory.
- The Future is Here—Big Data and analytics are transforming construction processes and contracting businesses.
How ERP Software Works
Accessing real-time information on costs, revenue, and productivity helps leading homebuilders get the insights they need to leverage timely improvements across their business.
With full integration of ERP software across all departments, every member of the company is contributing to datasets. The common data model offers powerful insights into a large homebuilder data platform.
Reporting and analytics on your company’s performance in finance, operations, construction processes, and sales. You no longer need to wait months to identify what is working or not.
Intuitive dashboards help managers follow team progress via measurable key performance indicators (KPIs.) This contributes to targeted action and team motivation as milestones are achieved.
There is no better way to understand your own business than comparing your performance to regional averages. These benchmarks can be analyzed and filtered in aggregate or detailed level. Common data model empowers builders to propel business processes, simplify the construction process, and maximize return on investment.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software applications uses a single interface allowing all team members to share information, enable collaboration, while increasing productivity and efficiency.
Phases of Innovation
Big data contributes to today’s construction industry innovations across all phases.
Even as early as the design phase of a construction process, information can facilitate this stage with stakeholder input, social media exposure/discussions, environmental information, and historical data. Analysis of this data and help determine any possible problem areas of a particular construction project.
Tying in with the Design phase, environmental conditions also affect the Construction phase. Big data related to weather patterns, meteorological reports, traffic patterns, land conditions, wetlands, and infrastructure development can help identify the optimal time to start construction and efficiently coordinate the schedule. Managers can also obtain an overview of quality control, safety, workforce and equipment data.
The construction industry records a huge 35% of total costs on waste, redundancy, and remedial work, so it’s critical to utilize big data and BIM technology to reduce those costs. In addition, managers can identify risks and evaluating performance so problems can be identified and resolved before extra costs are incurred.
Sensors can be an important component in acquiring big data. When installed in buildings, homes, bridges, and offices, sensors can track information such as foot traffic, energy usage, or internal temperatures. This information can then be input into your BIM system to create maintenance schedules and efficiency models in your buildings.
Sales and Marketing Phase
Big data is an indispensable tool in transforming sales and marketing. It involves gathering, analyzing, and using an immense volume of data to improve business processes and operations:
- Know your customer—to better understand your customer demographic, you have to understand their behaviors, motivators, and deterrents. Identify basic details as well as your target audience’s attitudes derived from surveys, social media activity, and online communities.
- Customer engagement—how customers perceive and interact with your brand.
- Brand awareness—data-driven companies are focused on increasing brand awareness, create customer-specific content, understand where and when to market online.
- Improved customer acquisition—statistics show that companies that utilize customer analytics are 23 times more likely to outperform their competitors.
- Leverage real-time data—when information is processed quickly and accurately, immediate and effective action can take place to realign a product offering with the clients’ needs.
- Optimizing marketing performance—utilizing cloud computing to compile data from multiple sources and customer interactions such as web, mobile apps, email, live chat, blog/vlog hits, print media, and in-model visits.
Staying on budget is a critical component for every business. For the homebuilder, big data can help generate more accurate quotes, bids, and estimates. Filter data to easily search previous projects, manage subcontractor pricing, match purchase orders with contractual agreements to reduce the risk of going over budget while allowing more time to correct problems.
Unified Data Equals Improved Communication
Throughout the build process, the biggest challenges is the lack of communication while on the job. Big data analytics provides a platform for sharing data that is easily shareable between the office and the field. Reduced errors, improved relationships between shareholders, and better communication throughout the construction process helps keep everyone involved and informed.
So much of the homebuilding industry has been accustomed to doing business with handshake and are extremely hesitant to adopt new technology. Big data is the wave of the future and a game-changer for construction companies. With accurate information, builders can increase efficiency, reduce build times, improve communication, and promote worker safety at jobsites.
As identified through research by FMI, roughly 96% of construction and engineering data went unused in 2018. Today’s cloud-based big data repositories are well-equipped to process an enormous volume of information, organize it into an analytical tool, and make it accessible to everyone involved in the construction process.
By uncovering trends, patterns, and correlations with large amounts of raw data, organizations can identify new opportunities, make smarter business moves, create more efficient operations, realize higher profits, and happier customers. Over the next few years it is predicted that big data analytics will transform the construction industry. For those companies that embrace this new technology, the future looks bright.